Some Puerto Ricans breathed a sigh of relief this week when, after 112 days of being without electricity since Hurricane Maria devastated the island, power finally returned to their homes, schools and businesses — but no thanks to the corruption and incompetence of their own government.
According to The Intercept, federal government officials learned that “a massive store of rebuilding materials” needed to restore Puerto Rico’s electrical grid was being hoarded by the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, a state-owned corporation operated by the territory’s government.
Armed with this information, federal agents then raided PREPA’s warehouses on Jan. 6 with a security detail and thereafter “began distributing (supplies) to contractors,” confirmed USACE spokesman Luciano Vera.
“Among the materials recovered so far are ‘2,875 pieces of critical material to contractors’ along with the sleeves of full-tension steel, a component of Puerto Rican electrical infrastructure required to erect new power lines,” The Intercept reported, quoting Vera.
This encounter reportedly occurred as around 50 percent of Puerto Ricans still remained without electricity.
Now fast forward to Wednesday, when power finally began to flow in the Academia Bautista de Puerto Nuevo in San Juan, spurring cries of joy from teachers and students alike.
Teachers and students at a school in Puerto Rico jump for joy after the school gets electricity back for the first time in the 112 days since Hurricane Maria struck. https://t.co/3wCH5JEpP3 pic.twitter.com/2PTDb4kHtp
— Good Morning America (@GMA) January 17, 2018
The Washington Examiner further notes that by Wednesday, “83 percent of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority customers (had) power.”
Talk about a big improvement — and again, no thanks to the local government’s extraordinary incompetence.
But it gets worse. The Intercept pointed out that even “(a)s PREPA hoards crucial resources that could help remedy the island’s dire situation,” Puerto Rico’s government “is attempting to annihilate the power provider’s only regulator.”
“When the current administration was in the opposition, they opposed all the energy reform bills,” said former Puerto Rico state Sen. Ramón Luis Nieves, referring to the so-called New Progressive Party.
“Now that they are in power, they have been trying to eliminate the energy regulator and the reforms that were passed.”
Here’s another interesting tidbit of information: Because of PREPA’s hoarding, some mayors tried “taking matters into their own hands, reportedly buying grid restoration supplies out of municipal budgets,” according to The Intercept.
That sounds like a local elected official using personal initiative to get something accomplished in the face of a system that’s completely dysfunctional.
Not surprisingly, that list didn’t include San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, who’s made it her personal mission to waste valuable time and resources constantly smearing President Donald Trump and his administration instead of doing her job.
Except that if it weren’t for the Trump administration’s raid last week, the kids at the Academia Bautista de Puerto Nuevo would likely still be without power — and again, no thanks to Cruz, the New Progressive Party and every other corrupt official in Puerto Rico.